THE US Department of State issued its global annual report on human rights on March 11, in which it evaluated the Slovak government’s respect for the human rights of citizens as standard overall. However, controversial issues were reported in some areas.
According to the report, notable human rights problems in Slovakia included some continuing reports of police mistreatment of Roma suspects and lengthy pre-trial detention, restrictions on freedom of religion, concerns about the integrity of the judiciary, corruption in national government, local government and government health services, violence against women and children, trafficking in women and children, societal discrimination and violence against Roma and other minorities.
The report also cited speech and press freedom as one of the problematic areas, saying that the government generally has respected these rights in practice, but limited them in some instances.
The report lists numerous attempts of some members of the government, judiciary and political elites to target the press in a number of civil defamation lawsuits, which often required the press to pay large sums of money, adding that there were concerns among observers that this financial risk may lead to self-censorship in the media.
Also, the report noted, courts made multiple decisions in favour of political elites, despite evidence of the veracity of the reports for which the media were being punished.
“Members of government took several actions that observers believed were intended to pressure the media to curtail reporting critical of the government,” the report states.
15. Mar 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff